In addition to traditional study skills, online credit recovery classes require students to develop deeper proficiency in self-directed study skills. Below are five teacher and courseware driven supports that can help students build goal-setting, time management, and other self-regulation skills that are key for success.
Teachers conduct several types of formal and informal check-ins. As students enter the room, some teachers initiate a quick exchange with each student to ensure that they are logging on and have a specific progress goal for the day—“Alex, you’re at 36% completion; see if you can push to 40% today, okay?” Other check-ins happen as teachers circulate in the learning lab, or at the teacher’s desk during an impromptu or scheduled meeting. In addition to discussing in-class goals, some teachers help students plan for doing online coursework at home or during a study hall.
Using progress indicators
The courseware provides bar charts, percentage completion metrics, and color-coded screen elements that help teachers and students track progress and set goals for the day, week, or semester. Students in some schools access their own online progress reports, as they enjoy knowing their standing and find it motivating. One teacher prominently displays a hand-written, poster-sized bar chart indicating each student’s percentage course completion and goals for the week. She explained, “They don’t always reach the goal, but it helps them with their time management. It allows them to say, ‘Last week I didn’t do so hot on my chemistry, so I’m going to have to work on that at least three times this week in order to catch up.’”
All schools encourage students to complete online work outside of the learning lab. To reduce the possibility of cheating, schools only permit students to make off-site progress until they reach the next mastery assessment, which then has to be unlocked by a teacher and completed in the learning lab. Most sites reported that only about 5–25% of students complete much work at home, but that it is an important option for students who are highly motivated, approaching graduation, or have an extended absence due to a suspension or medical problem. One teacher said, “If they took the time at home even just three nights per week to watch a 20-minute lecture and then do the related vocabulary exercises, they would cut their course completion time by 15–20%.” This teacher also makes calls and sends notes telling parents that their children always have homework, because they can work on an online course at home.
Building socio-emotional skills
Some teachers help students develop the socio-emotional skills that support success in online courses. One school combines their summer online credit recovery program with a series of group sessions on self-control and self-understanding. One teacher helped a frustrated student put her online coursework challenges in perspective, sitting with her and pointing out that she was close to reaching a progress milestone. Another teacher explained, “When I see students not progressing, I’ll sit down with them and ask them what the issue is. If it’s a personal issue, I’ll encourage them to leave it at home and press forward. That’s the coach in me.”
Completing a productivity rubric
In one school, students and teachers separately complete a productivity rubric each week, then meet to compare and discuss their assessments. The rubric contains the following four dimensions: Productivity (e.g., “student completed at least 75% of their weekly module goal”); Time Management Skills (e.g., “student rarely needed on-task reminders or redirection to meet program goals”); Respect (e.g., “student was usually respectful to peers and staff and used proper etiquette most of the time”); and Attendance (e.g., “student had one unexcused absence”).
This article is part of the Online High School Credit Recovery series, adapted from the Online Courses For Credit Recovery: Promising Practices For High School Teachers report, conducted by the UMass Donahue Institute with support from the Nellie Mae Education Foundation, which explored online credit recovery programs at 24 Massachusetts high schools.